“Christians must not be afraid to swim 'against the tide' in order to live their faith, resisting the temptation to conform”. The Pope said this at the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 23 January, proposing the testimony of Abraham at the beginning of a new series of reflections on the “Creed”.
To the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope presented the Patriarch as “the first great reference for speaking of faith”. God asked him “to set out, to leave his homeland behind him”. And in this regard Benedict XVI asked himself: “How would we have responded to such an invitation?”. In fact, it was “a departure in the dark”, he explained: “a journey that demanded radical obedience and trust. To which faith alone gives access”.
The Pope then stressed that the land God gave to Abraham did not belong to the great Patriarch: therefore the “father of believers” was “a stranger, with all that this implies: having no ambitions to possess, ever aware of his poverty, seeing everything as a gift”. And “this is also the spiritual condition of those who accept to follow the Lord, of those who decide to set out, responding to his call”.
Here then is the timeliness of Abraham's spiritual message: “believing in God” the Pope said, “makes us harbingers of values that all too often do not coincide with the fashion and opinion of the moment. It asks us to adopt criteria and to assume forms of conduct that are not part of the common mindset.
In many societies, moreover, “God has become the “great absent One” and many idols have supplanted him”: just as “the breakthroughs of science and technology”, while positive in themselves, “have instilled in the human person an illusion of omnipotence and self-sufficiency”; or the increasing egotism which “has created many imbalances in interpersonal relations and social behaviour”.
At the end of the Audience, greeting the groups of the faithful in their various languages, the Pope also launched an Appeal for solidarity for the peoples of Indonesia, “where widespread floods have devastated the capital, Jakarta”.